EU’s mask slips after Italy gets first recovery-fund tranche: ‘It’s a trap!’

Italy 'should be added to the green list' says ambassador

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The European Commission has given the green light to Italy’s €191.5billion (£164.6bn) recovery plan. Speaking at a joint press conference with the Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday, Mr Draghi declared: “Today is a day of pride for our country.” Italy, the first European country to be hit by the pandemic, will receive the largest share of the EU’s €750billion (£644bn) recovery package.

Known as Next Generation EU, the fund intends to help countries out of a sharp economic downturn caused by the COVID-19.

The €191.5billion (£164bn) Italian plan includes €68.9billion (£59.1bn) in grants.

37 percent of the funds will be invested in measures that support climate objectives.

Mr Draghi added: “If this goes through, and it is a great responsibility for Italy… then I am certain that some parts of the effort made by the Commission and European countries will remain structural, because the trust that has been given to us will have been shown to be well placed.”

The notion of permanent EU debt will be a hard-sell in the Council, though, where last year sceptics including Austria, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands only agreed to issue around €800billion (£686bn) in joint debt to reboot the EU’s economies – on the condition it would be a one-off instrument.

In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Italian MEP Antonio Maria Rinaldi suggested the funds are a “trap” for Italy.

He said: “Why is it that of the 27 EU countries, Italy is the only one that has requested the activation of the loans?

“Portugal has done so, but not so much.

“Countries like France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium… they didn’t ask for it.

“Evidently, this triggers some reasoning.”

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Mr Rinaldi added: “The conditions were not considered attractive by these countries.

“And it’s because there is so much liquidity in international markets at the moment, that they prefer to finance themselves independently by issuing bonds rather than having conditions attached by the European Commission.”

He added: “Why would you be in debt with the EU when you can get all the money you want indirectly?

“It seems like a trap…

“In Italy, they think this money is free. But it is not. It is a debt that we will have to pay back with interests and capital.

“But above all, it is a debt with really strong conditions. It is not just a loan but the EU dictates what we can and what we cannot do.

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“The other countries said, ‘No, thank you!'”

Last week, Germany’s Constitutional Court threw out an emergency appeal by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party against Berlin’s ratification of the recovery fund.

Since the relevant legislation had already been signed by the German President and promulgated in the Federal Gazette, the application lacked legal standing, the court said.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had signed the measure on April 23, after the top court had rejected another emergency appeal against it.

At the time, the court said there would be more potential harm from blocking the fund pending a full ruling than from allowing it to go ahead in the meantime.

The AfD is the largest opposition party in the German Parliament.

They argued that allowing the European Commission to borrow funds would exceed the EU’s powers.

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